Members of the anaerobic digestion industry have expressed disappointment with the “modest” rise in funds available via the government’s Feed in Tariffs (FiTs).
From August this year, AD projects smaller than 250 kilowatts can get 14.0 pence per kilowatt hour (kWh) and AD plants making 250-500kW of energy will get 13.0 p/kWh.
AD plants are already commonplace across Europe – with around 5,000 operating in Germany alone. The Coalition’s effort to stimulate the UK sector has underwhelmed some industry players.
Lord Redesdale, Chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association said: “The AD industry will be disappointed with the new levels announced: FiTs have so far failed to help more than a couple of projects, and this increase is too small to make any significant change to that. The Government do not appear to have taken a strategic view of the role that they want AD to play. These levels are insufficient to encourage AD plants at any scale.”
Ed Cattigan, Project Development Director at Farmgen, specialists in ‘energy farming’, said that the biggest issue is the cost. The initial cost of a 500kW system is the same as for a 600kW system, which limits how effective the government’s incentive is.
He said: “We are being driven to run larger engines inefficiently to get the higher FiT. If they had made the FiT for up to 500kw 13p and 9.4p thereafter, rather than an arbitrary cut-off, this would have made more economical sense.”
Other renewable supporters were more optimistic. Gaynor Hartnell at the Renewable Energy Association said: “At a time when other technologies are being cut back, these modest increases are welcome. On-farm AD brings a wide range of environmental and waste management benefits and we are glad to see these being recognised.”
The future could hold more good news for the fledgling sector, she went on: “We look to the forthcoming anaerobic digestion strategy and the Renewable Heat Incentive to complete the picture so that the sector can take off in the coming 12 months.”
Energy Minister Greg Barker added that the new tariffs were designed to “encourage the uptake of green electricity from anaerobic digestion.”